P&O Ferries will strengthen its position across the English Channel by launching a new daily ferry service linking Calais with the Port of Tilbury.

The new route launched in September and is designed to give freight which is not accompanied by a driver a direct route to a port located just 25 miles from Central London, broadening P&O Ferries’ service for importers to and exporters from the South East of England.

Janette Bell, Chief Executive of P&O Ferries, said: “We are delighted to be able to increase the choice we offer our customers by introducing a reliable, efficient and timely route for goods bound for markets in London and the South East.”

“The route saves up to 75 road miles each day compared with the traditional Calais-Dover crossing, meaning that our customers save on fuel and land on the doorstep of London.

“By prioritizing the fast discharge of the ship, the freight can be on the M25 from 5.30am, thereby enabling time-sensitive loads to continue their journey before the rush hour starts.”

Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of the Forth Ports Group (owner of the Port of Tilbury), said: “This adds another string to Tilbury’s market offering at a crucial time for the UK economy. Our £250m investment in an expanded ferry terminal at Tilbury2 will add further scope to grow our P&O routes to-and-from northern Europe in 2020.”

P&O Ferries has chartered Caroline Russ to service the new route, with two sailings every weekday and one each on Saturday and Sunday.

The eight-hour sailing will have capacity for 100 units of freight, with a total of 50,000 expected to be carried in the first 12 months. It is expected that time-sensitive supermarket goods including fresh fruit and vegetables will be transported on the route.

The new river berth at the Port of Tilbury is scheduled to open in April next year, enabling P&O Ferries to treble volumes on its existing Zeebrugge-Tilbury services to 600,000 loads of freight a year. An onward rail connection to Daventry is also expected to be operational in 2020, mirroring the rail connections linking the Port of Calais with Le Boulou, Turin and Orbassano on the Continent.